The term ‘cyber attack’ refers to any unwelcome attempt made against you online: stealing, disabling or destroying information, unauthorised access, exposition, and so on. Motivations for such actions vary though can usually be categorised as personal, criminal or political.
These attacks may be committed for reasons such as seeking financial gain through theft, a personal vendetta, espionage or political retribution. More information about how you can protect your business against cyber attacks can be found on the National Cyber Security Council (NCSC) website.
Cybercrime can lead to extreme financial ruin and reputation loss to both business and individuals alike.
What Are The Main Targets Of Cyber Attacks?
Whilst motivations for cyber attacks typically come from a personal, criminal or political point of view, the most common outcome of these attacks is to gain a company or individuals private information.
Organisations, state actors or private persons will likely target the following when carrying out cyber attacks:
- Intellectual property (Including product designs or trade secrets)
- Sensitive personal data
- Customer data (Including their financial data and personal database)
- Client lists
- IT services and infrastructure access
If successful in gaining any of the above information, cyber attacks can proceed to damage enterprises or abuse an individuals personal database.
They may cause data loss or manipulation, money loss, and cause valuable downtime which can lead to major service interruption and financial losses.
The Most Common Types Of Cyber Attacks
Cyber attacks can be launched via several exceptionally sophisticated tools and methods that exist in our current digital landscape and any aspect of your business that is digital and connected to the internet can in theory be hacked. This includes everything from laptops and devices to voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone systems and more. Some of the most common types of cyber attacks include:
- Phishing – Using scams designed to look like legitimate sources to steal users’ credentials or sensitive data
- Malware and Ransomware – Software which can render infected systems inoperable
- Zero-Day Exploit – Takes advantages of unknown hardware and software weaknesses
- DNS Tunnelling – Used to extract and exchange application data by using a communication channel with an unknown server
- Denial-of-service – Also known as (DoS), this floods a system’s resources to overwhelm them and reduces the systems ability to perform
Who Is Behind Cyber Attacks?
But who is behind these attacks? There are two ways to classify the perpetrators of these attacks: external versus internal threats.
External cyber threats typically come from criminal organisations or groups and professional hackers like state-sponsored actors, but can be committed by any amateur hacker.
Insider threats, on the other hand, are those who have legitimate and authorised access to an individual or company’s assets. These users can then abuse their access to information with internal threats.
It is most likely that insider cyber attacks are done from within a business. This could be disgruntled former or current employees, business partners, contractors, suppliers or even clients. It may even just be from a careless employee not adhering to security measures.
How Can Cyber Attacks Be Reduced?
An effective cybersecurity system can help to reduce cyber attacks. This is something you should always discuss with your business’ IT support services provider, who will be able to assist your company in protecting against the cyber attacks you are most likely to fall victim to. They can also help put processes and procedures in place to reduce the damage caused by any cyber attack.
Cybersecurity can protect online systems and the information they hold by detecting cyber attacks using technology, people and successful practices and processes, and reporting them.
The process used by cybersecurity professionals to prevent cyber attacks includes a process of detecting cyber threats and responding to security incidents. This is called threat management.
The key cybersecurity technologies include a comprehensive data security platform, identity and access management (IAM), offensive and defensive security services and threat intelligence and security information and event management (SIEM).
To mitigate insider threats, successful organisations should use comprehensive security software and approaches to prevent any employees from being able to launch cyber attacks.
This includes defining policies around data storage and devices, monitoring potential threats and risky behaviour, mapping accessible data and establishing trust mechanisms that can grant access but also revoke access and implement a multifactor authentication. This can help prevent anyone from within a company from getting their hands and abusing private information.